Army Life – Dear Dad (May I?) – Marian’s First Letter to Grandpa – November, 1943

Today, we read Marian’s first letter to Grandpa. She tells him a little bit more about herself and the wedding plans, but her bright and cheerful personality shines through.

Friday –

Dear “Dad” (May I?)

Thank you so much for your thoughtful letter. I really feel as tho’ I do know you, because Al has told me quite a bit about you. Getting really acquainted however, is impossible by letter, so I, too, am looking forward to the time when I can meet you personally and we can compare “facts and figures”. Let’s hope that that time won’t be very far away.

I started this letter last night, but Al came over so I know you’ll understand when I say, “I just couldn’t get it finished! I tried but —-.” Anyway, I’m glad, now, that I waited, for I have the added pleasure of hearing from you, and somehow that makes you just that much closer.

Thank you, too, for having such a wonderful son. I know we agree fully on all the fine qualities he has – I don’t need to tell you how very nice he really is, but, even tho’ you’ve known him longer than I have, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he’s the one I’ve been waiting for. And may I say a word right here, to Aunt Betty. “Thank you so much for your good wishes. Your opinion of Lad only confirmed what I felt all along. Someday soon, Aunt Betty, we’ll get together and compare notes for I imagine we’ll agree on quite a number of things.”

I don’t know how much Al has told you about me. I haven’t led a very eventful life but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I am the oldest of

Marian, Don, Margaret and Homer Irwin

Marian, Don, Margaret and Homer Irwin

four children, two boys and two girls. One brother and my sister are married, and living in or near Berkeley. My youngest brother is in his second year at California (University of) and is living at home. “Home” is Orinda – a glorified country club, at one time, but is now a residential section with about three stores at the main intersection. Dad works for the Westinghouse Electric Supply Company in Oakland. All of his relatives, except his father who is here in California, are from the East, but I believe almost all of them are in Pennsylvania. Most of Mother’s family are here in California, about one hundred miles from where we live. It’s quite a tribe we have, and all of us have been quite close. Cousins have grown up together, Before the war we always went to my Grandmother’s for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother’s Day, and we lived close enough so that we could see each other over weekends and other holidays, too. When we all get together there are about 40 or 45 of us, so you can imagine what a time we must have. And we all love it! I know they’re going to take to Lad immediately – as a matter of fact  – who doesn’t ? – And I hope he won’t be too floored by meeting so many “in-laws” the very first thing. Seems to me I’m supposed to introduce them gradually, but they are all so nice, I don’t think they’ll floor him!

I went to Berkeley High School and then across the bay to San Francisco State College. I taught school for five years – loved it but decided I wanted something different – so I am now the Camp Fire Girls Executive in South Pasadena. I love it, and will continue working after we are married – but only until Lad gets out of the Army. Then I’ll stop, with pleasure, and we can concentrate on such things as a family and getting really acquainted and besides- I’ve got to learn how to cook! Oh, I can manage to fry an egg or cook a vegetable, but I want to be able to do a really good job of it. You know, be famous for a special cake or a delicious stew etc.!

Lad probably told you that we were being married on Sunday, November 14th, (U.S. Gov’t permitting!) at Berkeley. The reception will be right afterwards for family and those friends who have the gas to drive out! I will be married in a suit, and we are having a double ring ceremony. I do wish you could be there, but will certainly be thinking of you all day long.

Seems to me I’ve rambled on enough. There are still lots of things I’d like to say, but I can’t put them all in one letter. All write again, very soon, and give you more details.

My very best wishes to you and Aunt Betty. It won’t be very long before we meet each other.

With love,


Tomorrow, another letter from Marian to Grandpa. On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Next week, I’ll be posting letters written in 1945. Dan and Paulette are married but having a hard time seeing each other because Dan travels near and far with his work for the Cemetery Registration Division. Both Lad and Dick are (mostly) home with their wives. Ced is still in Anchorage, Alaska, and Dave in in Manila, The Philippines, counting the months until he can come home. 

Judy Guion


Trumbull – Dear Halloween Pranksters (2) – News From Dan and Lad – October, 1943

page 2   10/31/43

The next letter in chronological order is from Dan. He starts out by saying it seems like his lot to miss the most interesting parts of the air raids — he has not yet even heard a piece of flak fall. “But the other day I witnessed another type of “warfare”. Two men and two ferrets were exterminating a rabbit colony in Wimbledon common. For the occasion the men were dressed in riding habits complete with black “Bowler” hats. They were armed with several nets and two ferrets — these animals look like white rats with a long wheel base. The nets were staked down over all the entrances and exits of the rabbit colony. Then the ferrets were given the signal to advance. Down the holes they went. Minutes passed. Suddenly one of the nets bounced up in the air with a flurry of brown fur. One of the men sprang toward it and seized it in his hands. Deftly he extricated a rabbit from the meshes, broke its neck and thrust the limp form into a sack. Soon a ferret reappeared and was promptly introduced into another hole. A questioning of the pseudo-nimrods revealed the following facts. Ferrets are raised by breeders who “bring out the beast in them” to be most effective in flushing rabbits. Finished products cost from 15 “bob” (shillings) to L 1. Naughty ferrets sometimes bite the hand that picks it up. Other undisciplined characters commit mayhem on its victims underground, leaving the exasperated hunter tapping his foot impatiently for an hour or two while the ferrets enjoys a subterranean banquet (or as one of the salacious Yanks suggested, the ferrets having heard of the reputation of rabbits, as he approaches his victim, “Put out or get out, rabbit!” thus explaining the long delay). Ferrets, while not on active duty, consume chicken heads or bread and milk, better results being obtained by the chicken heads. I learned later that the practice of ferreting is illegal, but, what with the scarcity of meat, officials are prone to overlook infractions of this law.

Lad’s letter is dated October 25th. He writes that he and Marian (spelled with an “a”) are to be married at the ”Little Chapel of the Flowers” in Berkeley on the afternoon of November 14th. He will, of course, wear his uniform. A Presbyterian minister of Marian’s choice will tie the knot. Lad is trying to secure a 7-day leave but thinks it will more likely be a 3-day pass. Financially, with their combined income and a budget, they expect to get by in good shape (at the time Lad wrote he had not received my letter telling him his Venezuelan Petroleum stock, which I had bought in 1940 for $75, skyrocketed, so that it is now worth $1100. Ain’t that sumpin’?)

To complete the record, I may as well give you Dick’s address, but if you don’t have any better luck hearing from him than I do, it won’t be much use writing him with any hope of a reply.

As Lad’s wedding date draws near, I have to fight a rising desire to throw caution to the wind and depart for Berkeley. It would mean closing the office (which, in the present circumstances, would mean going out of business permanently), leaving Aunt Betty with the entire burden of shopping, cooking, etc., to say nothing of the difficulties of civilian travel these days (and of course, the cost). So I’ll let my brain rule my heart and stay home.


Tomorrow and Friday, two letters from Marian to Grandpa.

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Special Picture # 243 – South Pasadena Hospitality Center – 1943

For the next few weekends, I’ll be posting Special Pictures. These are photos that do not pertain directly to the letters I’m posting but are unique and interesting so I want to share them. Enjoy.

This is a picture I just found of the South Pasadena Hospitality Center in South Pasadena, California, where Lad and Marian met and began dating. This was taken during the summer of 1943. 


Tomorrow, another Special Picture.

On Monday I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1945. Lad and Dick are home. Dan is in France with his bride – and the Army. Ced is still in Anchorage, Alaska, and Dave is in Manila, the Philippines.

Judy Guion



Trumbull – Dear Sonny: (That Means YOU) – Ced’s “Statement of Views” – August, 1943

In this week’s letter, Grandpa admits that he doesn’t have much local news to share so he includes excerpts from letters he’s received from his sons who are scattered around the country. We hear from both Lad and Ced.

Trumbull Conn,      August 8, 1943

Dear Sonny:   (That means YOU)

In one of Washington Irving’s delightful little essays (from The Sketch Book, I think) there is a fanciful tale of authors whose principal writings consist of thefts from the works of others. As I sit down this afternoon to do my weekly stint, there seems to be so little news to relate that most of this letter will probably consist of extracts from letters received from Lad and Ced – – no word having yet reached us from the other progeny, presumably en route to axe and axis.

You will be interested in Ced’s “Statement of Views:  “I still wish we had been able to avoid this war, but as one looks back now, it seems as though the groundwork for the present conflict was laid in the peace settlements of the previous war. Although diplomatic action for peace is theoretically best, I see now that things had gone so far by 1940 – 41 for it to work successfully. With this fact so obvious today it is only common sense which leads me to feel that applied military action was the only method which could achieve a favorable condition for a settlement of the worlds and our problems. Therefore, should the Selective Service call me now I would go into it to do the best I could, though not with joy. Allied victory now appears to be the only road to a pleasant and secure future. My fervent hope is that when victory does, past experience will make Allied leaders wiser and thus prevent another bungling of peace terms and postwar adjustments. For myself, I still hate the thought of killing another man, and hate to think of being partly responsible for the suffering which others would have to undergo at my hands, yet when you figure it out, by fighting and winning the war, there are probably fewer people who, in the long run, would have to suffer. All the above leaves me idealistically unchanged but willing to discard some of this idealism temporarily as a means to an end, which it is hoped will make it possible for all to live in a more peaceful and secure state throughout the world.”

Lad says: “I guess I never told you that my camera and all equipment (about $600) and my portable radio were stolen. I sort of miss both things. My car, however, is O.K., except that a couple of weeks ago I had to put in a new front-end ($23) and as soon as I can get $38 more will put in a new clutch.”

Which reminds me, Lad, that the clutch on my Buick seems to be slipping. Is it possible to have it repaired, do you suppose, or will I have to spend $38 also? The opening comments in your letter regarding the difficulty you are having finding a suitable pen leads me quite naturally to ask, “Why do you not use the pen I sent you? Is it lost, stolen or don’t you like it, or didn’t happen to have along with you?”

I want to say right here and now I know I’m going to like Marian. In fact you can tell her for me that she is a girl after my own heart. Besides being attractive and good

Marian Irwin

Marian Irwin

company as you have formerly stated, she is evidently kind, generous and thoughtful of others. Too bad you lost your camera or you might send me a snapshot of her. Your letter also mentions that Junior goes to Maryland in three or four weeks and you will probably get your furlough shortly after. As I figured, that will mean the latter part of August. As soon as you know any more definite date, don’t wait for Marian to suggest your writing to me. What an A-1 birthday present it would be if you could be here on September 11.

Butch and Marty both have Whooping Cough, but because of the inoculation, will get off easy. Grandma and Dorothy are still with us but Grandma expects to get a new pair of glasses Tuesday or Wednesday and will not move to New York until after that happens. Do you remember Harold La Tour? He is back from South America and now is with the daily news.

Ta ta for now.


Tomorrow, a letter from Lad with details of his life at Camp Santa Anita in California. On Friday, another letter from Grandpa to his sons, filled with the latest news of Trumbull, family and friends.

On Saturday and Sunday, the final two posts from the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson. It has been my pleasure to share this triumphant story with you. Enjoy the Photo Album on Sunday.

Judy Guion